Eyeing Global High-Speed Rail Market

Korea Railway Association focuses on exports of construction and operation technologies for high-speed rails overseas

Korea's railroad construction and operations technologies have been proven to be tops in the world with the launch of the high-speed railroad linking Seoul and Busan extending over 400 km in distance.
Korea now stands at the forefront of world-class technological advancement in almost every railway-related industry. The country has recently inaugurated an upgraded and innovated version of the KTX-1 and has successfully been operating the new "bullet" train with the maximum speed of 350 km/h. The successful operation of the high-speed train proved that it is more than equal to Japan's Shinkansen and the TGV in France in terms of technology and operation. Korea plans to export its highly-sophisticated railroad construction and operation technologies overseas to share them with foreign railroad operators.
The railroad has reemerged as a key transportation means to save high fuel oil costs and the government has been expanding its investments in the railroad over the past several years as an engine of green growth.
Following are excerpts from a recent written interview with Vice Chairman Shin Dong-choon of the Korea Railway Association (KRA):
Question: Vice Chairman Shin, please explain to our readers the background of the KRA's establishment and its significance.
Answer: What we had so far in the railroad industry were associations for railroad-related sectors such as those for rail facilities, signals and electrical parts and others, not just one representing the entire industry in its center. As you know, the railroad is a key example of a low-carbon, green growth industry and, thus, is in need of a group that can help with the systematic development of the railroad industry, speaking for the nation? railroad industry as a whole.
Q: An association is usually a collective of interested parties, but KRA has various parties related with the railroad industry as members, such as Korail and railroad facilities and service providers and builders. Is this confusing in terms of the KRA's identity?
A: It is not so. KRA, unlike any other business association, has as its members high-speed rail, general rail, subway, light train and mono-rail operators as members, from diversified sectors of the rail industry to integrate all those related to the rail industry and support them in many areas including exports of rail technologies and services abroad.
Q: The railroad industry around the world is faced with a renaissance, so to speak, taking advantage of the highly developed IT industry to further upgrade its development. What is your view on this?
A: That's right. The world railroad industry is having a renaissance these days. Statistics showed us that from 20 to 30 countries in the world are expanding their railroad networks or are building new ones, projecting that investments in railroads will continue for quite some time. For example, Brazil is on the verge of ordering a project to build a high-speed railroad from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo and Canlinas, extending for 517 km, while the United States is to build 11 high-speed railroads in the coming 11 years, with countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia to follow the others' leads to develop their natural resources industries.
KRA wants to be at the forefront of securing some of those projects, taking advantage of its experiences in both building and operating super-quality high-speed railroads and trains.
Q: Many people talk about exporting railroads, but they feel at the same time, Korea is behind France and Germany in terms of the high-speed rail technology, while such emerging countries as China are catching up fast with Korea. What do you think we have to do to make the railroad a key export industry?
A: I admit there is some concern since we imported the high-speed rail technology in 1990. But we developed and built the KTX-1 with our own efforts through the cooperation of our own academics, industry and research sectors, acquiring know-how for the construction and operation of high-speed rails that are second to none in the world. We feel that our hopes for exporting railroad and its products including technology transfer, the know-how for the development of railroad station areas, support of technology manpower and price competitiveness are very bright, backed up by our experiences in those areas.
Q: One of the major government policies is the policy for a low-carbon, green growth strategy, and the railroad is a top low-carbon industry. Korea is required to be a member of the countries responsible for low-carbon exposure. Are you entertaining a possible link between the railroad and the low-carbon exposure rights through a program?
A: Yes. But we have to consult with government authorities and legislative moves should be pushed in order for the railroad industry to get a bigger allocation for its reductions of carbon from the low-carbon fund and for additional budget allocation for the railroad industry, whose current allocation comes to only 1/8 of those allocated to, for example, the auto industry. This will enable the railroad industry to increase its investments in facilities.
Q: Vice Chairman, your career includes some of the key positions in such areas as overseas construction projects, the construction of the Incheon International Airport and other transportation projects and, therefore, you are considered the best person to lead the KRA. What are your guiding principles in life?
A: Working hard every day to the best I know how throughout my life has been my guiding principle in life, because when you do your best, you get good results, and even if you don't get good results, you don't feel sorry because you did your best.




















Q: Can you please tell us if you have any plans for the further development of the KRA and the resurgence of the railroad industry?
A: We plan to run the KRA to take charge of such important jobs as public relations for the railroad industry including increased investments in facility expansion and to build a comprehensive database for the railroad, in addition to working hard for the unity of railroad people and the overseas advancement of the railroad industry. I would like to take this opportunity to call for unity among the railroad people and to work hard to expand their overseas successes through mutual efforts. I hope that they will support the association? efforts and give it all the assistance they can muster.
At a roundtable discussion reviewing the railroad industry's achievements in 2009 held on Dec. 8 at the KRA's head office in Bangbae-dong, Seoul, chaired by Vice Chairman Shin, the participants agreed that it was a very successful year in overseas operations in particular. Director Dong Ho-rim of GS Construction said the Dongmyung Technology Complex succeeded in advancing into Algeria with its railroad design technology and Korean firms have been doing well in preparing the groundwork to win the high-speed railroad projects in the United States and Brazil as the railroad industry has much room for expansion overseas this year.
President Bae Yong-deuk of the Dongmyung Technology Complex said that for the past several years, the media has talked about the arrival of the boom years for the railroad industry and he feels that the real boom years will come now. We railroad people should get together to boost the national competitive power by finding the needed momentum.
KRA Vice Chairman Shin noted that the KRA was established just for that purpose. What's important are expectations for the KRA and responses to those expectations and, therefore, the KRA would do its best to make sure that member firms can depend on the association for their collective good.
Advisor Kang Ki-dong of Samsung Trading Construction Division said the construction of a high-speed railroad takes precedence over any other sectors in the railroad industry in the world due to its productive effects in society overall, although subways and general railroads are also important.
Currently, the length of high-speed railroads in operation around the world stretches for about 10,000 km and high-speed railroads under construction now totals about the same length, showing the acute importance attached to high-speed rail in many countries around the world. Furthermore, 15,000 km of high-speed rail are projected to be built in the next five to 10 years. nw

Vice Chairman Shin Dong-choon of the Korea Railway Association

3Vice Chairman Shin Dong-choon of the Korea Railway Association.


Copyright(c) 2003 Newsworld All rights reserved. news@newsworld.co.kr
3Fl, 292-47, Shindang 6-dong, Chung-gu, Seoul, Korea 100-456
Tel : 82-2-2235-6114 / Fax : 82-2-2235-0799